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Stanford pays tribute to Sept. 11 victims 20 years later, promising to never forget

STANFORDVILLE — Stanford Town Hall was transformed on Saturday, Sept. 11, into a 20-year memorial tribute for the victims of the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, as well as at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and in a field outside of Shanksville, Pa.  

The sloping green lawn in Stanfordville was filled with flags — 2,977 of them — each representing a person or K-9 life lost that day. The names of the victims were heard on a continuous loop tape made by local students and community members played throughout the day; the tape began playing by 8:46 a.m. that morning. A large sign at the foot of the hill proclaimed “Never Forget.”

That evening a program was held at 7 p.m. with the Color Guard moving into place; the Color Guard had been stationed at the site all day. Town Supervisor Wendy Burton welcomed all.

Leading the program, Burton introduced the crowd of nearly 200 people to FDNY and Pine Plains Chaplain Larry Pariseau, who was an EMT on Sept. 11, 2001. 

When Pariseau learned the towers were hit, he rushed to help in the recovery. He lost his sister that day; she was at Trinity Church when the planes hit. 

Pariseau worked tirelessly at Ground Zero; the experience changed his life. He gave up being an EMT and became a chaplain. He shared his story on Saturday and everyone listened, completely spellbound.   

Pariseau spoke about those who died on 9/11 and  later from illnesses related to the recovery work. He said race, religion, politics — nothing mattered at Ground Zero — they worked as one to clean up and to respect those who had perished. 

He shared personal stories. They were compelling and touching. Some were heartbreaking. Clearly, the chaplain has also never forgotten that day or the days that followed. Twenty years later, he asked that  we continue to remember also.

Burton  announced that the green area below Town Hall will henceforth be known as Town Hall Memorial Hill. 

FDNY Ladder 33 Capt. Dean Gihooley, brother of Stanford’s own Dennis Gihooley, a first responder who died in 2019 of  9/11 related illness, read “My Brother Has Fallen.” 

Several  local dignitaries were also at the ceremony. State Assemblywoman Didi Barrett (D-106) spoke about remembering our servicemen and women. She noted the high rate of service-related suicides and mentioned last week’s apparent suicide of veteran Kyle Van De Water, just weeks after he withdrew from the 2022 Congressional race. (For more on Van De Water’s death, read this week’s front page.)

Barrett told the audience, “We can do better, we have to do better.”

U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-NY-19) spoke of everyone who helped in the aftermath of 9/11, and of the gratitude we all have for first responders. 

“Yet 20 years later we find ourselves in pain,” he said, mentioning the current pandemic and the 13 service members recently killed at the airport during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. “We have to find a way to fight this pain [and do it] with love.”

State Senator Sue Serino (R-41) remembered the day after the attack and mentioned the unity it brought about in this country.

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro stressed the need to remember the 9/11 attacks and to honor all those who fight for our freedoms — our veterans and our first responders — no matter the cost to themselves.

Two poems were read, “The Dash” poem, by Linda Ellis, was read by Pariseau, and Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Gregg Pulver (R-19) read, “My Name Is Old Glory,” a poem written by Don S. Miller from the perspective of the U.S. flag, speaking to all the wars of the past, the lives lost and the glory and bravery of those who fight for freedom as bagpipes played softly in the background.

At the closing, the Color Guard presented arms. Each flag was illuminated by an electric candle, and two beams of light came from above the Town Hall representing the Twin Towers. The display brought gasps and some tears from the audience. As the lights glowed, the National Anthem was sung. The twin beams were brought from NYC for the event and have since been returned, but the flags and candles remained on view through the weekend.

Stanford Fire Department representatives Ed Zick and Evelyn Seipp organized the event with the help and cooperation from area fire companies, including Milan, Pine Plains, East Clinton, West Clinton, Pleasant Valley and Red Hook. The New York State Police and Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office also took part.

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